Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Resolutions passed on Ho-Chunk DeJope expansion

Catherine E. Grothus, News Reporter

The Dane County Board of Supervisors passed two resolutions last night concerning the expansion of Ho-Chunk Nation’s DeJope Facility in Madison.

One resolution authorizes a referendum as part of the Feb. 17 ballot in order to allow voters to decide if they want a gaming facility in Madison, and the other resolution calls for the Board of Supervisors to approve the agreement between Dane County and the Ho-Chunk Nation concerning the addition of casino gaming to DeJope.


Citizens and county supervisors were torn on the wording of the referendum, arguing the language needed to be as neutral as possible so that voters would be able to make a decision without wording-related bias.

Ald. Austin King, District 8, urged the supervisors to use good policymaking techniques in describing what the voters are voting on.

“This body has an obligation to adopt language as neutral as possible,” King said.

The revised referendum will appear on the February ballot as “Should the Ho-Chunk Nation’s DeJope Facility in the City of Madison, Dane County, be allowed to offer casino-style gambling if a portion of the revenues are paid to the City of Madison and Dane County?”

If the referendum passes, DeJope bingo hall will be allowed to establish casino-style gaming such as blackjack, slots, craps, roulette, poker and pari-mutuel betting. The City of Madison and Dane County will each receive an annual payment from the Ho-Chunk Nation that would amount to more than $45 million each over the next 13 years.

Additionally, the Ho-Chunk Nation will pay for any transportation improvements necessary for the expanded casino, ensure that the business does not compete with other entertainment venues in Madison and Dane County, and establish programs to help problem gamblers.

“We are very pleased by this agreement,” said Wade Blackbear, vice president of the Ho-Chunk Nation. “It is beneficial to the entire area.”

Citizens and supervisors are torn on the issue of a casino in Madison.

Madison resident RoseMary Lee said it is important to consider whether the Ho-Chunk concessions were even necessary.

“The crux of this issue is if Madison citizens of Dane County want these services,” Lee said. “Dollars possibly gained do not equal the social ills.”

“My main concern is that the county is looking at it as a way to raise money, profiting on the poorest and the weakest,” said Adam Benedetto, a Madison resident.

County supervisor Karen Cornwell said it was best to leave the decision to the people of Madison.

“Because of the referendum, people can vote the way they think is right,” Cornwell said. “This agreement is better than no agreement at all.”

County supervisor Brett Husley agrees with Cornwell.

“This is the best (casino) deal in the state that I have ever heard of,” Husley said.

Ho-Chunk Nation legislator Christine Funmaker-Romano is excited for the referendum because it represents the joining of two governing nations and would bring working and living situations together.

Husley said the agreement between the Ho-Chunk Nation and the city and county deals with all relevant issues and that Madison should support this agreement, then launch an educational campaign for supervisors and the public.

The DeJope Facility is located on the far southeast side of Madison, near I90-39 and U.S.12-18.

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